Change Is Fantastic! Reframing Unexpected Surprises, Detours, and Obstacles October 30, 2023 18:15
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I was driving in the car, headed to a dental appointment a few weeks ago. I was half-listening to an NPR interview with a scientist. I was taking an alternate route due to a massive construction project on I-465 and was laser-beam focused on driving. However, I heard a phrase that made me stop, literally, and pay attention.
The scientist being interviewed said, “Change is fantastic!”
My first thought was, that would make an excellent mantra! What a wonderful way to reframe unexpected surprises, detours, and obstacles.
Hearing this woman’s words changed (for the better) the rest of my commute. I was no longer thinking about the extra time that this alternate route was taking. Instead, I was able to appreciate the light traffic and fall scenery. My trip felt more like an adventure and an exploration than an inconvenience.
Not only did I arrive a few minutes early for my appointment, but I also discovered a new route in the process.
Most of us find change to be an unnerving, annoying inconvenience—sometimes, change can even seem terrifying. We often have a negative reaction to change, especially if we have expectations or attachments connected to the situation.
We leave for work only to discover our car has a flat tire.
We spill coffee on our laptop.
The power goes out in the middle of our Zoom meeting.
These unexpected twists and turns can, and do, happen at times, but humans are resilient. We are designed to adapt because we live in a world where change is a constant, unpredictable companion.
The good news is, the more we practice reframing unexpected changes with the mantra, “Change is fantastic!” the more effectively we can navigate even more serious changes like illness, death, natural disasters, and war.
The natural world is a beautiful reminder of the perpetual and cyclic nature of change.
At this time of year, deciduous trees in my town are bursting with color, and I love watching their leaves flutter to the ground. Soon, the air will be cold, and their branches will be bare—there is beauty in bare branches, too.
Change is Fantastic!
Flocks of birds are migrating south. Collectively, they undulate in waves across darkening skies streaked with the bold colors of autumn sunsets.
Change is Fantastic!
The squirrels in my yard are busy collecting and hiding acorns for the upcoming winter months. They, too, are preparing for fantastic changes.
Granted, some changes are easier to appreciate than others.
Celebrating birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations are just a few examples. It’s easy to recognize and rejoice the fantastic nature of these milestones.
I’ve worked in a high school setting for over three decades, and while most seniors look forward to graduation at the end of the school year, each year there are a few who dread it. These students have grown attached and accustomed to school life—the structure, the expectations, the routines and schedules. Even though they may complain about the workload (or the food in the cafeteria), school for them is predictable, familiar, and safe.
Some students are so resistant to change that they sabotage their own future success by failing key classes so they can’t graduate. For them, moving forward into new situations, opportunities, and circumstances is too uncomfortable or frightening. They believe that if they don’t graduate, their lives won’t have to change. Self-sabotage and stubborn stagnation are not effective coping mechanisms for navigating growth and progress. Unfortunately, these heart-breaking strategies aren’t just limited to seniors in high school.
Life is change!
While some changes are more comfortable to experience than others, even the lessons that devastating changes bring can be meaningful and profound.
Changes such as dealing with an illness, a sudden death, violent crime, war, or a devastating earthquake, flood, or wildfire—these are truly fantastic changes—but they don’t feel very fantastic. Instead, they can be overwhelming and traumatic.
These larger-than-life changes are formidable reminders of the importance of compassion and interdependence. Often, during profoundly difficult times, people come together to offer aid, support, and comfort. This interconnection enables us to see that what we do matters, and that our actions ripple and reach, creating an intricate tapestry of connections.
Such dramatic and jarring changes can also lead to equally dramatic realizations, understanding, and the motivation to act and respond in resourceful, beneficial ways. Big changes help us to see the bigger picture and the longer view.
Human beings are both fragile and resilient—vulnerable and strong. By accepting that change will be our constant companion throughout our lives, and by welcoming small changes with a light-hearted, open-minded attitude, these strategies can help us enjoy our current journey and prepare for bigger obstacles that may lie ahead.
As I was walking from the parking lot into school this morning, I noticed that the temperature had dropped by twenty degrees during my commute. The jacket that I was wearing wasn’t quite warm enough for this environmental change. However, the walk from my car to the front door was a short one, and I had a mantra that was just perfect for this situation: “Change is fantastic!”
Thank you for reading or listening to this month's offering. If you would like to embrace the upcoming, fantastic changes in your life with the help of a new mala, feel free to visit the latest MMM collection while you're here. I've added several new designs since Wellbeing Fest.